How many of the following ten inventions did you know were linked to Glasgow? Definitely makes you proud to be known across the world for more than deep fried pizzas, the weather or Celtic and Rangers.

It was Winston Churchill that said of we Scots. “Of all the small nations on earth perhaps only the Greeks surpass the Scots in their contribution to mankind.”

10. Ultrasound


The ultrasound, one of the greatest inventions in history, a chance for expectant parents to bond with their unborn baby for the first time, was initially created for the benefit of shipbuilders and spawned from the idea of a bat’s ability to see crossed with RAF echo radar technology.

The team consisting of Professor Ian Donald, Dr John McVicar and Engineer Tom Brown risking humiliation and career suicide by pursuing the creation of their prototype ultrasound machine. Although the original creation was primitive, it was deemed a success, which led the way for modern ultrasounds of today.

9. Glasgow Police Act 1800


Glasgow became the first city in the world to hire a police force with the responsibility of protecting a city. After Westminster passed the Glasgow Police Act in 1800. The Glasgow Police Force served Glasgow until 1975 when it was amalgamated into Strathclyde Police.

When London’s Metropolitan Police Force attempted to claim themselves as the original police force the Advertising Standards Authority reprimanded them. They have never attempted to take credit for establishing the first police force again.

8. Decommissioning a Nuclear Reactor


In 1993, 30 years after commissioning a nuclear reactor within East Kilbride’s Scottish Reactor Research Centre, the decision to attempt to close and decommission the reactor whilst simultaneously allowing research to continue unaffected, was agreed upon. This would be the first time in history a project of this magnitude would be attempted. Nuclear reactors can be very volatile and during decommissioning are incredibly hazardous. After a two step approach was devised and instigated, Glasgow University for a few months had the smallest licensed nuclear reactor site in the world. By the end of the decommission, the site had been returned to pre reactor levels.

7. Glasgow Coma Scale


In 1974, a team of professors at Glasgow University, helped create the scale that in the future would enable every coma patient to be neurologically diagnosed. Graham Teasdale and Bryan J Jennett both professors of neurosurgery at the University of Glasgow’s Institute of Neurological Sciences at the Southern General Hospital helped create the “Glasgow Coma Scale”.

Originally designed to assess patients with traumatic brain injuries or patients who had been in a coma for longer than six hours. It is now commonly used worldwide and used throughout nearly every hospital department.

6. Remove Brain Tumour

Brain cancer, artwork

Glasgow University again. (Seriously, is it any surprise they are considered to be in the top 1% per cent of the world’s greatest universities.) In 1879, William Macewen successfully removed a brain tumour. He developed new techniques to successfully treat mastoid disease, as well as the spinal cord. In his 1924 obituary he was granted the accolade of being the first person in history to practice brain surgery using newly discovered techniques paving the way for modern surgery.

5. Nobel Prize 1988


The 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Sir James Black, Gertrude Elion and George Hitchings. Their discovery helped with the progression of healing stomach ulcers. Beta Blockers, the little lifesaving pills that people take for granted, are available because of the trio’s research into propranolol. Considered one of the most significant contributions to clinical pharmacology of the 20th century and possible because of these two men and a woman mentioned. Where did the trio create their world changing medicine? Yup, University of Glasgow.

4. Nobel Peace Prize

nutrition and war

In 1949, John Boyd Orr was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize thanks to his research into nutrition, his research helped prove milk was a necessity for a child’s development, this in turn led to free school milk across the UK. Orr, in 1936 completed a report that proved almost one third of Britain’s population were too poor to support themselves with a nutritional balanced diet. His research also helped people survive on rations during WW2. Upon receiving his Nobel Peace Prize for scientific research into nutrition, he donated the financial segment of his award to the National Peace Council, World Movement for World Federal Government and a variety of other organisations devoted to world peace. (Qualified from Glasgow University.)

3. First Comic Book

Glasgow Looking Glass

Imagine a world without the comic books industry? Horrifying don’t you think? Well without Glasgow’s intervention this dark, fearsome, colourless world, might have been an all too grim reality. Glasgow you see is responsible for the world’s first comic book. Titled, Glasgow Looking Glass, created by William Heath, the comic itself is similar to an early interpretation of satirical magazine Private Eye. Although historians will debate whether Glasgow Looking Glass is in fact the first comic book, it includes the first use of speech bubbles helping develop the illustration and storyline. It was also the first recorded use of…To Be Continued.

2. Steam Engine

jame swatt

Arguably the most important catalyst that preceded the Industrial Revolution. James Watt’s improvements of the primitive steam engine, occurred while Watt was walking in a Glasgow park. His eureka moment was the realisation that he could separate steam chambers in a train. Allowing the steam to be condensed in one chamber whilst continually keeping the other chamber warm, the engine in turn would stay continuously warm. James Watt’s invention helped spur Britain into becoming one of the greatest empires to have ever graced the face of the earth.

1. Refrigeration

William Cullen

Another invention discovered by Glasgow University alumni. In the 18th century, physicist and chemist William Cullen recorded the first historical evidence of refrigeration. Demonstrating his invention at Glasgow University in 1748, the discovery was deemed so insignificant the technique was not commercialised until the 19th century. Using the technique of boiling ethyl ether in a partial vacuum. William Cullen inadvertently helped create the chemical reaction that keeps the 500 million fridge freezers currently in use worldwide, frozen.